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Soil Science Society of America
5585 Guilford Road • Madison, WI 53711-5801 • 608-273-8080 • Fax 608-273-2021
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Contact: Susan V. Fisk, Public Relations Director, 608-273-8091, sfisk@sciencesocieties.org

How do forests recover from fire?

Soils provide forest foundation after fire

Mar. 16, 2017 –  Forest fires can be frightening, destructive events. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) March 15 Soils Matter blog post explains the effects of forest fires on soil ecosystems—and how they bounce back.

Prescribed forest fire“The extent of damage is related to the temperature of the fire and the speed at which it moves through the forest,” says Mary Beth Adams, a soil scientist with the U.S. Forest Service.

How quickly the forest recovers is also linked to these factors. Slow, controlled fires can bring benefits. “Burning can add charcoal to the soil, and may result in a short pulse of nutrients in the ash,” Adams explains. “Burning off the dead plant life, or weedy plants, increases sunlight to the forest floor. This often causes a flush of vegetation in response to the increase in light reaching the soil and available to plants. Extremely hot fires can sterilize the upper layer of the soils by killing the soil microbial life. They burn off large amounts of carbon stored in the soil, and change the ability of soil to absorb and retain water.”

Sometimes recovery is an easy part of the natural process, but some interventions can help prevent further damage.

To read the entire blog post, visit https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/how-do-forests-recover-from-fires/.  

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The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. Founded in 1936, SSSA proudly celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit www.soils.org or follow @SSSA_soils on Twitter.